HC Deb 21 April 1994 vol 241 cc1029-30
8. Mr. Alan W. Williams

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on progress in implementing the recommendations of the 1991 Morgan report on crime prevention.

Mr. Howard

The Government have welcomed the report's endorsement of our partnership approach to crime prevention and accepted its general findings on the important contributions of the police and others. We see no need to implement the specific recommendations in the report about the role of local authorities in crime prevention.

Mr. Williams

Does the Minister accept, that local councils have a unique role to play in pulling together schools, businesses, voluntary organisations and the police in devising locally based strategies for tackling crime? Why is he so reluctant to implement the key recommendation of the Morgan report to give local authorities statutory responsibility for crime prevention?

Mr. Howard

Many local agencies have an important role to play in tackling crime and one of the main responsibilities of the new police authorities will be the drawing up of local partnerships between the police and the public to tackle crime. I am surprised that, in asking his supplementary question, the hon. Gentleman did not congratulate the police force of Dyfed Powys, where his constituency lies, on a 22 per cent. fall in crime and a 27 per cent. fall in burglary during the last quarter of 1993.

Mr. Thurnham

Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware of the success of Greater Manchester police in reducing crime by 6 per cent. last year? Does not that prove that his excellent reforms are having a major impact, even before they reach the statute book?

Mr. Howard

I should certainly like to join my hon. Friend in congratulating the Greater Manchester police on their performance last year. If he looks carefully at last year's figures, he will find that the figure for the last quarter was even better than the figure for the year as a whole. I join my hon. Friend in congratulating Greater Manchester police on their part in achieving that.

Mr. Maclennan

Is the Home Secretary prepared to withdraw the comment that he made on 3 November on the "Today" programme that nobody knows how to prevent crime? If so, will he proceed to increase his Department's budget for specific crime prevention measures in local areas, to enhance its effectiveness and raise it from a quarter of one per cent., which is a disgracefully low figure?

Mr. Howard

No one has found the complete answer to the prevention of crime. If the hon. Gentleman has, it is about time that he let us know what he thinks it is. He should recognise that we are spending £200 million a year specifically on crime prevention, without taking account of the £6 billion which the police spend on crime prevention and other things.

Mrs. Currie

With regard to the most rapidly rising sector of crime—taking from and taking away cars—is the Home Secretary aware of the efforts being made by the police in Derby to persuade people to empty their garages of rubbish, put their cars in them and lock the doors? Is he also aware of, and does he support, the work being done by Nissan's research and development centre at Cranfield into modern devices that can be built into cars to reduce car theft to a minimum?

Mr. Howard

My hon. Friend is right. We must take every measure that we can to prevent crime and inhibit criminals' ability to perpetrate the crime that they wish to commit. We should consider seriously and implement the measures that she identified.

Mr. Michael

As the Home Secretary does not appear to have read it, may I point out that the key recommendation of the Morgan report was the role of local authorities? Will he now praise those. Labour local authorities that have developed active partnerships with the police and local communities? The Home Secretary is the missing player. Will he now agree to implement the Morgan report?

Mr. Howard

I suppose that the local authorities that the hon. Member for Sedgefield (Mr. Blair) chose to include in his article in the Daily Mirror were chosen because he thought that they were the best. What a pity that he did not mention the fact that all the crime prevention schemes that he identified in that article were funded by the Government. So it is the Government who are taking the lead in crime prevention and it is about time the Opposition recognised that that is the position.

Mr. Brandreth

Will my right hon. and learned Friend confirm that, in the last quarter of last year, the number of recorded burglaries fell by 11 per cent., and that crime prevention has a major part to play in that improvement? Will he use this opportunity to salute those involved with home watch schemes? One in six households in my constituency belong to that scheme; we need to encourage more to do so.

Mr. Howard

I entirely agree with my hon. Friend and I have made it absolutely clear that we shall succeed in the fight against crime only by building a strong partnership between the police and the public, in which schemes such as home watch have an important part to play.

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